awaken

verb
awak·​en | \ ə-ˈwā-kən How to pronounce awaken (audio) \
awakened; awakening\ ə-​ˈwāk-​niŋ How to pronounce awakening (audio) , ə-​ˈwā-​kə-​ \; awakens

Definition of awaken

: awake He was awakened by a knock at the door. I awakened from a deep sleep. She awakened to the smell of bacon and eggs. news that the long-dormant volcano is now awakening a new generation awakening to the importance of political action Shortly after settling in, she was awakened in the middle of the night by the phone …— Herb Caen The honourable gentleman made a speech which drew tears from the eyes of the ladies, and awakened the liveliest emotions in every individual present.— Charles Dickens That new, different noise we hear is from a giant constituency awakening in our field, and it will get louder.Library Journal

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Other Words from awaken

awakener \ ə-​ˈwāk-​nər How to pronounce awakener (audio) , ə-​ˈwā-​kə-​ \ noun, plural awakeners
Coffee's greatest effects are exerted upon the brain and mind, since coffee is a bracing awakener. — Chris Kilham Order this spicy soup only if you like a real palate awakener. — Karola Saekel

Synonyms & Antonyms for awaken

Synonyms

arouse, awake, knock up [British], rouse, wake, waken

Antonyms

lull

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The Past Tense Forms of Awake and Awaken

Awake and awaken are two distinct verbs that mean the same thing. In other words, they're synonyms, and in the present tense they each behave the way English verbs typically behave:

The cat awakes at dawn.

The cat awakens at dawn.

Things get trickier in the past tense.

Our modern verb awake is the result of the long-ago melding of two older verbs. These verbs were very similar, but one had regular past tense forms (like play: played, has played) and the other had irregular past tense forms (like take: took, has taken).

When the two verbs melded into the modern awake (which was a process over many years), things got complicated, resulting ultimately in the following grammatically permissible sentences:

The cat awaked at dawn.

The cat awoke at dawn.

The cat was awaked by the mouse at dawn.

The cat was awoken by the mouse at dawn.

Note, though, that at this point, these are the most common:

The cat awoke at dawn.

The cat was awoken by the mouse at dawn.

That's the story of awake. Fortunately awaken (which was originally one of the past tense forms of awake) is simpler. It's a regular verb, which means it has the usual past tense forms:

The cat awakened at dawn.

The cat was awakened at dawn by a mouse.

As if all this weren't complicated enough, awake is also an adjective:

Because of the cat, I too am now awake.

For a detailed discussion of the history of these words, please see the The Grammatical History of 'Awaken' / 'Awoken' / 'Awakened'.

Examples of awaken in a Sentence

She usually awakens several times during the night. A loud noise awakened her.

Recent Examples on the Web

Sanderson awakens on a beach, surrounded by debris. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Jordan Peele's Take on The Twilight Zone's "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" Breaks from the Original," 3 Apr. 2019 Americans have awakened to the importance of the rule of law and the danger posed by its erosion. Fox News, "Haley on the New York Times, Kavanaugh and US foreign policy," 20 Sep. 2018 But after 90 straightforward, some might say dull, minutes of soccer on Saturday, England and its fans were awakened to this invigorating new reality: The team, young and until now unproven, is headed to its first World Cup semifinal since 1990. Andrew Keh, New York Times, "England Takes Another Step Toward Bringing ‘It’ Home," 8 July 2018 Behold the wonder of this device as the cartoon cat awakens when a telephone call comes in: The phone has become a kitschy collector's item in certain parts of the world (get yours on eBay!). Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "A 35-Year-Old Garfield Novelty Telephone Mystery Has Been Solved," 29 Mar. 2019 Several demonstrations were held Wednesday, marking exactly eight years after the birth of a Moroccan Arab Spring protest movement that awakened a spirit of activism in this North African kingdom. Amira El Masaiti, The Seattle Times, "Morocco: Arab Spring anniversary brings reflection, beatings," 20 Feb. 2019 Delicious, simple food that awakened his senses and imagination. Longreads, "“We All Had the Same Acid Flashback at the Same Time”: The New American Cuisine," 29 Mar. 2018 During her 20s, Coppola had her consciousness awakened in two ways. Pam Kragen, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Carlsbad woman hopes to brand the world with love," 4 Feb. 2018 Similarly, Aurora in 1959’s Disney feature Sleeping Beauty is, true to the title, asleep for a good portion of the action, waiting for a hero to awaken her with a kiss. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "Netflix’s Disenchantment suggests the messy future of princess stories," 22 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'awaken.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of awaken

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for awaken

Middle English, from Old English awæcnian, from a- + wæcnian to waken

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Statistics for awaken

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for awaken

The first known use of awaken was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for awaken

awaken

verb

English Language Learners Definition of awaken

somewhat formal : to stop sleeping : to wake up

awaken

verb
awak·​en | \ ə-ˈwā-kən How to pronounce awaken (audio) \
awakened; awakening

Kids Definition of awaken

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More from Merriam-Webster on awaken

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with awaken

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for awaken

Spanish Central: Translation of awaken

Britannica English: Translation of awaken for Arabic Speakers

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